How to Host a Listening Party, Soulhouette Style

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What exactly is a listening party? I’m glad so many of you have asked, because I’d be delighted to explain in this brief, informative blog post.

First, the objective is to create an intimate, cozy space for listeners to experience (as always) healing, truth and love while they engage with M.E. These low-key, relaxed gatherings are essentially private, acoustic concerts that incorporate free form Q&A/discussions, and refreshments (because, what even is a party without food?).

How does a listening party flow?

Maya Elizabeth, the artist, will arrive at least one hour before the event start time to set up and soundcheck. Then, from the start time, we’ll give listeners about 30 minutes to make their way, mingle and munch. Once everyone has gathered, the host/hostess will introduce m.e. briefly and the “show” will begin. As we’re listening, you’ll get all the context for the creative process. You’ll hear stories and thoughts behind the songs, the acoustic versions, and the engineered tracks. Questions & dialogue are welcome and encouraged throughout the listening portion, which will last roughly one hour. To wrap up the evening, guests can continue mingling, converse with m.e., and snag signed physical copies of the album, along with some wearable healing, truth & love 🙃.

Where do they take place?

Usually, in people’s living rooms. Relatively snug, comfy spaces work best.

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Who comes to the listening party?

Hosts/hostesses are responsible for gathering an audience of about 15-20 listeners. You invite and communicate details with your guests–friends, colleagues, family members, someone who just looks like they need some inspiration for life, etc.

How do I set up for a listening party?

Here’s what you’re required to secure for a successful Soulhouette listening session:

  • food
  • drinks
  • the listening audience
  • a clean, cozy space — no need to rearrange, remodel or redecorate you’re entire house… Just have comfortable seating available for 15-20 guests to gather in one room.
  • a resource surface — After the listening portion, CDs, t-shirts and other resources will be available for listeners to purchase. You’ll need to have at least a small table available for m.e. to display these items.

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Here’s what you don’t have to worry about:

  • sound (We’ll handle that)

What should I serve?

The short answer…Anything that allows for easy simultaneous snacking and listening. Typically finger foods or hors d’oeuvres and deserts work well.

I want to host a Soulhouette listening party. Where do I sign up?

Glad you asked! Click here & scroll to “contact.”

 

Hopefully, this information helps you! Happy listening!

In healing, truth & love,

M.E.

I Don’t Want to Walk Around Wounded

Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury...result from...wound repair...a natural part of the healing process.

I don’t want to walk around wounded. I have a purpose to fulfill and doing so will get rather challenging if I’m bleeding out or stopping to replace my bandage all of the time.

Now, scars I’m okay to have. Even Jesus had scars. And I’m fine if mine show. They are evidence of healing and a Grace that sustains. Scars remind me what/that I’ve endured.

But, I don’t want to walk around wounded.

The difference between wounds and scars is time and attention, tending and mending. If a wound has developed into a scar, some growth has taken place.

Let’s talk about growth… Growth doesn’t always mean you’ll stop fighting your recurring battle. It often just means you’ll fight through stronger and more effectively than you did before. I’m aware I’ll face what I usually do again…and again. Certain temptations were designed uniquely to match my weaknesses. Yesterday, perhaps, I cried. Today I may be genuinely smiling. Tomorrow, I might cry for some of the same reasons as before. But then, I’ll wipe my face and forge on, knowing I’ll eventually celebrate the momentum that falling down gave me to get back up… Knowing that eventually the sun will peek from behind the clouds, and everything’s purpose will be clear, and I’ll be better off, and all that good stuff… Knowing that setbacks are necessary for the process, but they don’t necessarily equate defeat.

Thus, I’ll choose to never claim defeat. I’ll fight, and I’ll get hurt. Certain doubts will knock me down, but the Truth will reveal itself and Love’s laces will stitch me up. I won’t have to walk around wounded.

At times, you and I will feel a little (slash a lot) less than fabulous. But if we don’t allow ourselves to feel, we won’t know we’re broken. And if we don’t recognize our brokenness, we won’t seek healing. Therefore, let’s feel so we can acknowledge & address the less-than-fabulous… That way, we won’t have to walk around wounded.

Here are lyrics to a new song that allowed me to feel a couple weeks ago. It gave me a healthy space to contemplate my doubts, and express my frustrations when familiar winds whisked me downward, knocking my thoughts to and fro. This song was my plea for some mending:

My Plea

Always go through the same

Living my yesterday

Wiping these tears

Just to feel them fall again

Knowing just what I need

Still somehow out of reach

Stretch me, don’t leave me there.

Please, reach out to me

but don’t say anything

that I can’t bear to hear.

What gives me joy

leaves me depleted, too

How does that make any sense?

And what fills me up

Opens my wounds

There’s wear and there’s tear

But it’s fresh and new.

Please, bandage my heart

And I’ll wear the scars

That you’d have me to.

Please, if this isn’t the end

Just make it make sense again.

Please, reach out to me

but don’t say anything

that I can’t bear to hear.

Please, if You can

I know You can

I believe that You can

make it alright again.

© Maya E. Hairston, 2017

Soulhouette: This is M.E.

I know… I haven’t blogged in forever. But I promise it’s with good reason…

I’ve been otherwise occupied planning the next big move…

After a lifetime of writing, a few years of wandering in a musical desert, about 2 more years of focused studio time, lots of learning, plenty of tweaking, two single releases and a music video… I’m so excited to finally unveil my first full project with an album release concert on November 19, 2016!!! What a fitting way to celebrate my birthday weekend, wouldn’t you say? Pretty much… So, let me tell you a little bit about the album:

It includes many of the original songs I’ve highlighted in this blog. It tells my story. It paints listeners a picture of who Maya Elizabeth is…honestly…truly. The lyrics reflect my experiences and struggles with self-image, worries about my worth, pleas for forgiveness, and doubts concerning my purpose. Then they resolve to address my Creator’s perspective, His masterful design capabilities, and His gracious love for those who don’t even know how to receive it.

These conflicting and contrasting thoughts describe the album’s title, ‘Soulhouette: This is M.E.’ I assume you might like to know what the term “Soulhouette” means and how it emerged. First, note that it’s a play on the word silhouette. Here’s an earlier reflection of mine that sums up the significance:

image-1In allowing me to face the struggles I address in my lyrics, God reveals to me the person He created me to be and the purpose He designed and destined for me to fulfill. I am discovering and striving to embrace the image He gave me, to see myself as He does. I’ve learned my outward appearance and people’s perceptions of who I am are merely shadows or silhouettes–dark outlines of my shape or a simple suggestion of who I might be. But, as I engage and entertain the Light, my true image become more visible. More light means more truth. Light exposes my complete figure, as truth releases me from the dark thoughts that once ruled my life.

As I’ve shared before, writing these songs has helped me process situations so I can recall what I know to be true and combat not-so-lovely thoughts. This phenomenon is precisely what birthed this project, and exactly the impact I’m hoping it will have on listeners. If you’re in the area, or planning to be that evening, I invite you to join us for a night of live music, healing, truth and love! And, whether or not you experience ‘Soulhouette’ live, I believe listening to this album will help you continually renew your mind, offer you hope for your future, and encourage you to live on purpose.

Get excited, grab your friends, and get your tickets! I’ll see you all on November 19!

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Say Oh!

“Each breath that we breathe is a display of His mercy.

So even weary hearts can sing a song of thanksgiving…”

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Sometimes I lose enthusiasm. Who doesn’t, though? There’s no shame in feeling ‘blah.’ There is shame, however, in letting that ‘blah-ness’ dictate your actions.

Here’s what I try to remember (and I’m grateful to have parents and friends who remind me often) when being overwhelmed makes me underwhelmed…when I’ve lost sight of my vision…when I’m barely trudging along…when I have trouble mustering up excitement about what I’m here to do…when I forget to celebrate…

I’ve been anointed. That’s not to say that I’ve been drenched in coconut oil (though my curls might appreciate that). But basically, being anointed means despite my doubts, my nature, or my flaws, God is merciful enough to breathe life into my lungs everyday so I can perform a specific set of skills with unnatural, unexplainable ease. Re-phrase… I don’t/can’t empower myself to do what I do. I don’t get bragging rights. I sing and write to inspire other people because my Creator gifted me the ability and the passion. And if I neglect that truth, He has every right and ability to revoke the privilege.

I’ve been appointed. A generous Creator destined my existence. He’s crafting my story to inspire and relate to somebody, so no matter how skeptical I am of my impact, it’s His impact to make. He’s burdened me to do something that someone else might not do as effectively, and not because I’m naturally any more skilled or worthy, but literally because He said, “Hmm… Maya Elizabeth…here’s a voice. Because I love you, I’m going to entrust it to you. Use it to introduce the world to healing, truth, and love… All the things that I am…”

I’ve been chosen. He’s etched my name on the very thing He gives me chance after chance to wake up and run after. He’s even merciful when I crawl… Do you get where I’m going? I have no excuse, essentially. I’m not here for me. I don’t exist to make art for my own delight and pleasure. At the end of the day, I’m not hustling to pat myself on the back. It’s bigger.

I’ve been graced. It is my responsibility to keep going. It’s my duty to remain steadfast and devoted, to act honorably, to live a life worthy of the gift and pleasing to the gift-giver, to show gratitude for every inhale, and bestow blessings with every exhale.

Even on a blah day, or during a blah week, month or beyond, I have every reason to sacrifice what and how I feel. If I’m alive, I have an assignment to fulfill, contributions to make, and seeds to sow. I’ve been selected and equipped. That, in my opinion, is pretty motivating and exciting. Just the thought gives me reason. So, although I sometimes have a hard time getting excited about my day-to-day, I should be grateful just to have a day-to-day and live it intentionally.

Anyway, the purpose of this rant was to describe the message in my latest single, The Anthem (Say Oh). As you listen, I hope the lyrics meet you where you are and provide somewhat of a pick-me-up to reignite your enthusiasm and your commitment to living on purpose. In every season, give thanks and keep going. That, essentially, is what this song means to me…

Just Ask

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Our lives have meaning. That’s an absolute truth. But there are times our efforts in life lack meaning. There are seasons, perhaps, where we don’t contribute much, embrace our full potential, or use our gifts productively because we don’t know what we’re doing and we don’t ask for direction. We want to pour out, but we ourselves are too thirsty. We get stuck in a rut.
The graphic above pictures an excerpt from a song I wrote as a plea to my Source when I hadn’t written in a long, long time. Recently I was reflecting on these lyrics that have helped “un-rut” me during some dry times and began contemplating the following points. I thought about thirst and its remedy. I was reminded I have plenty of water at my disposal… I simply need to ask for it.
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1. We have to ask for what we truly need.
Sometimes we move in vain because our motives are misguided and dishonorable.
We can want success. We might fear failure. We can want money. We may be anxious about lacking financial security. We might chase a title so we can demand respect. We can pursue a relationship to secure a status or fill a personal void, perhaps. We may work hard and acquire those fabulous things, and that’s beautiful, but what will we do with them then? Pat ourselves on the back for a goal well accomplished, realize we’re as empty as before, and keep running after the next/better/more?
Instead of asking for visible or tangible things, what if we asked for wisdom? That’s an uncommon request. What about direction, guidance, strong judgment, or discernment? Image-1-1.jpgIf we sought as or more diligently to obtain those qualities, we’d probably make more effective decisions, and spend our time living more focused, purposeful and fulfilling lives.

2. Asking saves us time & trouble.
I’m honestly learning myself that we don’t have to expend and exhaust ourselves trying to figure out (on our own) what we’re supposed to do with our lives–in general, day-to-day, all of the above. We waste too much time running, walking, and crawling in circles when we could reach out for guidance and up for a lift. We pursue things that don’t align with God’s perfect plan for our lives. We just do what we feel like doing, or we do nothing because we don’t feel like it (guilty). Then, when our (non)efforts don’t totally pan out, we get angry, upset, or confused and find ineffective (and usually destructive) ways to cope.
3. We have to ask because we don’t have all the answers… but we have access to the One who does.
 So, if you want to know your purpose or how to live, ask the One who created you. First, get to know Him, then chat about what He had in mind when He decided you should exist. He already knows what He has for you and how he wants to prosper and not harm you. But we make ourselves too busy to sit down and converse, ask questions, listen intently, respond when necessary… This quality time and conversation fills us up–quenches our deep thirst for the answers we attempt to get in so many different places.
He shakes His head, “Child, if only you knew….” If only we recognized the access we have.
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We can literally just ask our Creator. Starting the dialogue is as simple as saying, “Hey, I believe you exist and you are who you say you are, and I trust you even though I can’t see you (that’s called faith, btw). Since I accept that you know best, can you lead me? My feelings/nature don’t seem to know how to get where we’re supposed to be going…” If you don’t even know you can talk to Him, you likely won’t ask Him anything… But I promise you can and you’ll want to.
But, anyway… Get to know the One who knows it all and become vulnerable enough to ask for wisdom and direction. Tell Him where you are and what you want. We all get thirsty. We’ve all been in a place (or will land in a place one day) where we realize we’ve gotten off track or lost all sense of meaning. That’s the space where we recognize we’re in need. And if we land there enough, we’ll know what we’ve been drinking doesn’t really satisfy.

My First Music Video

This is so wild! Last night I had a blast during the ‘Come Ye’ music video pre-release party! It was absolutely incredible to witness the outpouring of love and support from so many people who are excited to walk this journey with me. There’s nothing more encouraging than hearing and seeing how your commitment to using your gifts wisely and pursuing your passions impacts others. Seriously, you’re not alone. And when you let your God-given gifts shine, you invite others to support and experience abundant life with you.

When I say I’m thrilled to share this video, I’m totally understating my elation. I’m excited that this song has brought so many listeners to realize hope and peace in the midst of their own battles, but I’m hoping a visual depiction will take the impact to a whole new level. The story is definitely meant to elicit emotion, but above all, we wanted to paint a picture that displays how God’s healing presence and His grace can show up in even so much as a song, a smile, an angelic being, another person’s gentle word or embrace…He can restore any situation/trouble/burden, no matter how grim or unfortunate or desperate.

The creator is love. His Word is truth. His power heals. Don’t give up and don’t ever feel that you have to bear your sorrows, your worries, you mess, or your circumstances on your own. Share this video and this message with someone today. You never know who might need some motivation.

 

 

Thanks for reading, listening, viewing, and sharing! Checkout www.mayaelizabethmusic.com and subscribe for updates on the Maya Elizabeth Music Movement. There’s more to come very soon!

Does That Matter To You?

The sun sees the same…over and over and over…nothing new. Music has always been therapy. It’s been our voice. It’s been our release. It’s been our attempt at processing tragedy. And it has been a large part of our contribution to this country’s culture. But we’re not here and we’ve never been here to simply entertain. Art and music should enlighten, empower, elicit and catalyze.
They built their religious and secular rituals, festivals, and social gatherings on the foundations of song, dances, and rhythms they invented to cope with and express their New World realities…Image-1.jpg

In the United States, the dominant forms of contemporary American music and vernacular dance are also derived from America’s African-based slave legacy. This has occurred despite the fact that drums, the rhythmic foundation of African music and dance, were outlawed in many slave communities in the United States. 

When slave “masters” and overseers in the United States discovered that drums could be used as a secret means of communication, they were banned. But African rhythmic sensibility would not die. Nor could it be suppressed.” (An excerpt from a National Geographic News article that explains the connection between African slave’s roots and American culture.)

Image-1-1.jpgIf you’re having trouble processing all that’s happening in our country, especially this past week’s killings –mind you, it’s nothing new–I’d encourage you to try making some music, or find some type of creative activity to release your emotions. And then, if you feel led, share what you create to uplift and educate other people. It’s not the only way to respond, and it’s certainly not going to fix our society, but it breaks the silence and  it counts in it’s own way. I spent some personal time yesterday reflecting, writing & strumming. Here are the lyrics and a clip:

 

We only want the same things that you’ve got,

but we pay much more.

What will it take for you to recognize our worth?

From the time that the drum was silenced,

our desires stirred

for us to matter and our voices to be heard.

Now you can watch,

but you see what you want to see.

You can hear the screaming,

but are you listening?

Every moment, we’re moments away

from another tragedy.

Does that matter to you?

Because it matters to me.

 

©Maya E. Hairston, 2016